One thing I can’t stand is debating politics with people. It’s kinda sad, but in this current political period most of the time you can’t talk about it for longer than two minutes before it becomes personal and your character starts being attacked.
No matter the platform, be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Reddit, the comments section on any article or political piece will be a toxic wasteland of slurs, threats and vulgar language.
I don’t know when or why this has become the case, t got especially bad around 2015 though (granted that’s when I got started really following news). Every discussion becomes an all or nothing situation where you’re either a stupid liberal with no concept of the real world or you’re a racist conservative with no empathy towards the plights of those less fortunate than you.
For example, especially since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, you cannot talk about gun control without it blowing up into a personal attack and a potential screaming match.
There are very few people sitting in that middle ground that realize that not everything is black and white. Sometimes you have to have empathy but put things in practical terms as well to find a true solution to a problem.
It only highlights what I see as a major flaw of our political system, the two party system. By drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, people can excuse their behavior because they’re being loyal to their party. They have blinders in their minds that change their perspective and make everything the other party does seem wrong, and show theirs as the right thing.
This a major reason that in his farewell address published for his citizens during the final days of his presidency, George Washington spoke about the dangers of establishing political parties.
“In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations—northern and southern—Atlantic and western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views.”
“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.”
If our first president knew the danger political parties would cause, why do we still lean on them to decide our elections over 200 years later?
This political divide is also not helped by the fact that the media picks sides as well. Every site, channel and station has a bias, some larger than others. To get the real truth, you have to pick through both sides and see what stays constant.
But how many people actually do that? Not enough, most likely. Granted, it’s difficult and time consuming to do that and is an unnecessary amount of work to get this information. Especially when it’s from a medium that’s whole purpose is to be fast, simple and unbiased in the first place.
Furthermore and maybe most important, people are just stubborn. It’s in our nature. “I am right and you are wrong!” That’s why attempts to clear something up for a person by showing them the other side of the argument will cause defensiveness. We don’t want to be wrong or look stupid.
These factors limit actual arguments and hinders people from talking through the facts and coming to a mutual understanding, which is the whole point of arguing. They aren’t meant to end in name calling and bad feelings.
I don’t know what the solution here is. Do we just stick it out and keep pushing and making chinks in the armor of the person with 20 guns, a rebel flag and a MAGA cap who’s too proud and stubborn to admit they’re wrong?
Or do we sit through the temper tantrum and constant interruptions of the person who’s a vegan liberal that won’t rest until guns are banned from the face of the Earth?
Of course I’m exaggerating and using stereotypes of both sides here to prove my point, but in the end there are just some questions that don’t have an easy answer, or any answer. And the more questions you ask the fewer answers you’ll get.